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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

What’s app: State politics gets tech savvy

Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 08, 2013
First Published: 01:29 IST(8/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:31 IST(8/1/2013)

An hour after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar wrapped up his 45-minute address to party workers after inaugurating the renovated office at Nariman Point last week, his speech was uploaded on YouTube.

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In a plush dedicated Information Technology room with flat screen, high-definition TV sets, efforts are on to monitor 50 news channels 24/7. The team monitoring the news is entrusted to put all ‘positive content’ and stories about the party and its leaders on YouTube, while alerts will be sent about allegations or negative stories to party spokespersons to issue clarifications and rebuttals.

Another dedicated social media wing scans the net, follows popular twitteratis and updates party’s Facebook page.

Politicians and political parties in Maharashtra are coming of age, raking in the benefits of technology. Meeting agendas are scanned on android phones, iPads have replaced note pads for legislature work, and Facebook pages, blogs and SMSes are being used to communicate.

Part of the high-tech brigade are home minister R R Patil, public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, all of whom have blogs run by their offices.

“Earlier, we had to deal with only print media but now we also look at electronic media and social media. One has to be swift in handing out reactions or else you lose out,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik. All NCP press conferences are promptly up on Youtube and mails  dispatched to all media offices.

Revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat’s morning ritual starts with an app on his Android phone, which helps him read all the news related to his department, party and state politics. For official meetings, Thorat refers to the agenda on a smart phone.

Leader of Opposition in the legislative council, BJP’s Vinod Tawde, is addicted to his iPhone, iPad and a Blackberry for official work.  “It’s an irony we can’t take an iPad inside the House without special permission. That’s the only time I rely on printed speech or a note pad for notes,’’ he said.

And in the age of 24/7 news, nothing is off-limits. Congress minister Nitin Raut’s publicity team  sends a mail to the media after every state cabinet meeting, detailing issues raised by the minister in the meet. Cabinet meetings are confidential.

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